What Is Iniquity?
Iniquity is the inner act of willfulness against God. It involves the attitudes of the heart. Scripture specifically identifies the following iniquities: bitterness (see Acts 8:23), greed (see Acts 8:18–23), lust (Job 31:1–12), and stubbornness (I Samuel 15:23).
The Greek word for iniquity that is used most frequently in the New Testament is anŏmia, which means “illegality, i.e. violation of the law or . . . wickedness.” It stems from the word anŏmŏs, which refers to not being subject to the law. Based on the teaching of Jesus and other passages of Scripture, iniquity is doing our own will instead of God’s will, even if our own will appears to be “doing good.”
Jesus said: “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21–23).
The definition of iniquity as “doing our own will” is confirmed in Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Psalm 119:1–3 declares that when we walk in God’s ways, we do no iniquity: “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who search his testimonies: that seek him with their whole heart. For they that work iniquity, have not walked in his ways.”